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How to Spot Early Signs of Dementia
In an article published on AARP.com (Patrick J. Kiger, AARP, October 22, 2019) it was reported that from age 50 on, it’s not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things. However, persistent difficulty with memory, cognition, or the ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening. If you are concerned about the following persistent symptoms for yourself or a loved one, speak with your doctor and see an expert who can conduct tests and come up with an appropriate diagnosis.
Dementia symptoms to watch for
Dementia isn’t actually a disease but a catch-all term for changes in the brain, including Alzheimer’s, that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:
1. Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimer’s Association says.
2. Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer's, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
3. Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought, or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.
4. Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful, or suspicious; becomes upset easily; loses interest in activities, or seems depressed is cause for concern.
6. Confusion about time and place. Loved ones who forget where they are or can’t remember how they got there should raise alarms. Disorientation about time, like routinely forgetting the day of the week, is another sign.
7. Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.
Patrick J. Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ, and Mother Jones, as well as the websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
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